Kingsway Theatre – The Landmark Nabe Cinema of Bloor West

2021 - The Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St W, just west of Royal York Rd on the north side
2021 – The Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St W, just west of Royal York Rd on the north side

The Kingsway Theatre is located at ‪3030 Bloor St W (just west of Royal York Rd on the north side) in The Kingsway neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Architecture of the Kingsway Theatre

Built in 1939, the Art Deco style theatre features a two-storey south facade with buff brick cladding and trim. The box office is flanked by entrance doors and shops in the centre of the lower storey. The bulb-lite marquee curves outward, sheltering the box office and entrances.

On the second storey of the World War II-era theatre, there are six brick pilasters (rectangular columns that project partially from the wall) with cast stone capitals. The capitals, along with the centred parapet, extend past the roofline. Also, on each end of the second-storey facade are faux metal buttresses.

Today, fastened to the second storey of the facade is a neon sign “KINGSWAY,” which also showcases the movies being shown; however, when originally built, there were two of these signs. They were angled and fastened to the curved marquee. The capacity of the theatre when it first opened was 700 seats.

Part of the Festival Cinemas

1998 - The Kingsway Theatre on Bloor St W, looking north
1998 – The Kingsway Theatre on Bloor St W, looking north (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 97, Item 4)

In 1982, the Kingsway Theatre underwent a major renovation when it became part of Festival Cinemas. The updates included a new sound system, Art Deco lamps were refurbished, neon tubing around the ornate auditorium ceiling was replaced, and a pink neon sign was added to the candy counter. New seats were also installed, and capacity was reduced to 670. The main, single-screen auditorium featured repertory and arthouse films.

A smaller 28-seat theatre called the Nostalgic was opened on the second floor. It screened older westerns, comedies, musicals and dramas.

One of the Festival Cinemas chain operators, Peter McQuillan, wanted to give patrons great entertainment at a low price while recapturing the theatre’s classic style. During the 1982 reopening and for a limited time, patrons could purchase a membership to the theatre for $5.00. With the membership, admission to a movie was 99¢, and for non-members, it was $1.99.

During a second remodel of the Kingsway in 1999, the theatre’s capacity was decreased to 300 seats.

The Festival Cinemas chain included the Kingsway, Paradise, Revue, Royal and the Fox. In 2004, Mr McQuillan passed away. Two years later, the chain collapsed, and while the Fox remained open (separate ownership), the Paradise, Royal, Revue and Kingsway were shuttered.

Heritage & the Kingsway’s Comeback

2019 - Kingsway Theatre marquee
2019 – Kingsway Theatre marquee

In 2008, the theatre received heritage designation from the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Before the Kingsway could reopen, the theatre needed some attention. Its new operator, Rui Pereira, had new carpet installed, made the theatre wheelchair accessible, added new front doors, newly upholstered seats and more. After being closed for 2½ years, the historic gem reopened.

Today, the 80+-year-old landmark nabe (neighbourhood) cinema has an atmosphere that harkens back to yesteryear. It features the occasional blockbuster along with foreign films and documentaries. Visit the Kingsway Theatre website for more information.

Kingsway Neighbourhood History

In the early 1900s, Robert Home Smith purchased vast amounts of land on each side of the Humber River. His company mapped out thirteen subdivisions based on the ‘garden city movement’ method. This was an urban planning method where communities are surrounded by green space and contain balanced areas of residences, industry and agriculture.

Kingsway Theatre Photos

1958 – A view of the Kingsway Theatre on the north side of Bloor St W, west of Royal York Rd. On the marquee, “Witness for the Prosecution,” starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton and “Paris Holiday,” starring Bob Hope, Fernandel and Anita Ekberg, were playing
1958 – A view of the Kingsway Theatre on the north side of Bloor St W, west of Royal York Rd. On the marquee, “Witness for the Prosecution,” starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton and “Paris Holiday,” starring Bob Hope, Fernandel and Anita Ekberg, were playing (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7997)
2021 - The Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St W, just west of Royal York Rd on the north side
2021 – The Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St W, just west of Royal York Rd on the north side
2019 -  The Kingsway Theatre on a winter night. On the marquee, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci and “Marriage Story,” starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Julia Greer, were playing
2019 – The Kingsway Theatre on a winter night. On the marquee, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci and “Marriage Story,” starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Julia Greer, were playing
1998 - The Kingsway Theatre on Bloor St W, looking north. On the marquee, “The Gingerbread Man,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz and Robert Downey Jr and “Vertigo,” starring James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes, were playing
1998 – The Kingsway Theatre on Bloor St W, looking north. On the marquee, “The Gingerbread Man,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz and Robert Downey Jr and “Vertigo,” starring James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes, were playing (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 97, Item 4)
1943 - The ticket booth and entrance of the Kingsway Theatre
1943 – The ticket booth and entrance of the Kingsway Theatre (courtesy of Kingsway Theatre)
2021 - The Kingsway Theatre ticket booth and entrance at 3030 Bloor St W
2021 – The Kingsway Theatre ticket booth and entrance at 3030 Bloor St W
Date unknown - The auditorium at the Kingsway Theatre
Date unknown – The auditorium at the Kingsway Theatre (courtesy of Kingsway Theatre)
Date unknown - The rear of the auditorium in the Kingsway Theatre
Date unknown – The rear of the auditorium in the Kingsway Theatre (courtesy of Kingsway Theatre)
2016 - Kingsway Theatre auditorium
2016 – Kingsway Theatre auditorium (courtesy of Kingsway Theatre)
2016 - The 28-seat Screening Room at the Kingsway Theatre
2016 – The 28-seat Screening Room at the Kingsway Theatre (courtesy of Kingsway Theatre)
1958 - Looking northwest from the corner of Bloor St W and Royal York Rd towards FW Woolworth Co, the Kingsway Theatre and shops
1958 – Looking northwest from the corner of Bloor St W and Royal York Rd towards FW Woolworth Co, the Kingsway Theatre and shops (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7964)
2021 - Looking west towards the main entrance of the Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St W
2021 – Looking west towards the main entrance of the Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St W
2019 - Kingsway Theatre marquee
2019 – Kingsway Theatre marquee
1949 - Patrons lined up outside of the Kingsway Theatre
1949 – Patrons lined up outside of the Kingsway Theatre (courtesy of Kingsway Theatre)
2019 - On the Kingsway Theatre marquee, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci and “Marriage Story,” starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Julia Greer, were playing
2019 – On the Kingsway Theatre marquee, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci and “Marriage Story,” starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Julia Greer, were playing
1941 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address and phone number of the Kingsway Theatre
1941 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address and phone number of the Kingsway Theatre (Toronto Public Library)
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